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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 6 years ago

LETTER: Higher academic standards bring anxiety, frustration

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Why doesn’t anyone want to listen to the parents when it comes to Common Core? 

Dear Editor:

Why doesn’t anyone want to listen to the parents when it comes to Common Core?

The English Language Arts Standards have been moved up a grade level. We are asking kindergarteners to perform what was expected of first-graders five years ago and challenging first-graders to meet what were second- and third-grade expectations.  Parents are frustrated because their children are frustrated.  They are tired of dealing with wet pants, bitten fingernails and children who feel they have had enough school by Thursday and want to stay home on Friday. Most kindergarteners used to love school. Now, many would prefer not to go. Why is it that nobody with power to change the standards is listening to the parents?

Many children, particularly boys, are not developmentally ready to meet the new standardized expectations. Because the academic bar has been set so high, there is little time in kindergarten for children to pretend and play imaginatively. Also, there is little time to explore and develop curiosity and spontaneity. Instead of building the self-confidence so important in learning, children are becoming anxious and frustrated.

In my opinion, the long term effects of the Common Core Standards at the primary levels will become more negative than positive. Most importantly, with all the pressure and emphasis on testing, the joy for learning is disappearing. Second, a lack of confidence often leads to bullying and other misbehaviors. Third, children at the primary level will not become engaged in learning, leading to a higher dropout rate in high school.  Statistics show that female students are excelling at all levels of education, and male students are falling behind, a difference that will only become greater.

My experience as a literacy specialist in New York showed me the importance of developmental readiness and enhancing a joy for reading. We created a first-grade tutorial program, dealing with phonic awareness, writing and sight words. This boost was all many of the 6-year-olds needed. Some of these children were very bright and possessed the ability to think out of the box, but they were still not ready for the rigor of the second- and third-grade reading (pre Core curriculum). At the end of third grade, all students were given a New York State Reading Test.  Nearly all of them passed, and many excelled. Later, one even became the high school valedictorian! (What would have happened to him today?)

We need to wake up the folks in Tallahassee who are insisting the “Common Core is here to stay.” I challenge the elementary school principals, like Mr. Ronca, to compare both visits to the nurse’s office and Friday student absences pre Common Core with today, and submit  the statistical results to Tallahassee.

Margaret Walsh

Ormond Beach

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